A Narrative Review of the Disenfranchisement of Single Mothers in Highland Ecuador

Lisbeth A. Pino Gavidia1, *, Joy C. MacDermid1, 2, Laura Brunton1, Samantha Doralp1
1 Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada
2 Roth McFarlane Hand and Upper Limb Centre, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, London, ON, Canada

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© 2022 Gavidia et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada; Tel: 226-582-5501; E-mail:



The Andean South American country of Ecuador presents social challenges that contribute to inequities. The social determinants of health have impacts on the physical, psychological and social health of individuals across all societies. Ecuador is an example of how the interactions of gender roles and social determinants of health impact the health of single mothers and their children.


A retrospective historical literature review was conducted on gender role expectations within the rural context Ecuador to inform future public health strategies and health interventions.


Gender inequality contributes to higher rates of single parenting, child labour, and migration. Food insecurity and poverty are affected through the interface of economic hardships and rural agricultural livelihoods.


The disenfranchisement of poor rural women in Ecuador is deeply rooted in historical gender discrimination, societal attitudes, and institutionalized gender bias that incur onto the society as a whole in terms of becoming less protectors and producers of human resources. The health of single mothers and children living in poverty and their ability to create a healthy family environment will not improve until women explore their productivity and creativity amid social tensions and livelihood struggles.

Keywords: Child poverty, Food insecurity, Gender inequality, Disenfranchisement, Single mothers, Highland Ecuador.